Murder Trial Begins in 6-Year-old Etan Patz Case More Than Three Decades After His Disappearance

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon tells jurors they will "see and hear" alleged killer's confession

Photo: Stanley K. Patz/AP

Etan Patz was walking to the bus stop alone for the first time when he vanished in 1979.

For decades, no one knew what happened to the 6-year-old, who became the first missing child whose image was imprinted on milk cartons. Thirty-three years later, a mentally-ill man was arrested for Etan's murder. On Friday, the trial started for Pedro Hernandez, a worker at the neighborhood corner candy store, who in 2012 allegedly confessed to the boy's brutal murder.

"You will see and hear his chilling confession," Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told jurors Friday, the Associated Press reports. "What you will see is someone who very keenly controls the information that he puts out."

In the tape in question, Hernandez calmly describes putting the boy, who was still alive, into a plastic bag, then putting the bag inside a box and dumping it nearby.

"I was nervous; my legs were jumping," Hernandez, now 54, reportedly said during the recorded confession. "I wanted to let go, but I just couldn't let go. I felt like something just took over me. I don't know what to say. Something just took over me, and I was just choking him."

In their opening remarks, the defense said Hernandez's so-called confession was false.

"He has visions. He hears voices," defense lawyer Harvey Fishbein said. "He cannot distinguish between what is real and what is not."

Hernandez was charged with Patz's murder in 2012. The boy's body was never found.

Hernandez is "a person who committed a horrible, unthinkable act, and then covered his tracks and lived the rest of his life always waiting and wondering when the day would come that his dark secret was out," Illuzzi-Orbon said. "Today is that day."

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